|The Sun and the Moon, Elizabeth Murray|
In 1941 Jacob Lawrence completed his 60-painting epic "The Migration of the Negro", telling the story of the great 1930s migration from rural South to urban North. In form it resembles nothing so much as storyboards; the addition of terse, understated captions anticipates the comic book as a serious art form. In a gold medal at the Missing the Point Olympics, the Phillips got the odd-numbered paintings and the Museum of Modern Art got the even-numbered ones. What Solomon proposed this division?! Maybe the same one who displayed the paintings in a loose grid on the wall rather than in a linear progression down a hallway.
After Lawrence, however, I have no quarrel with the displays in the Phillips - indeed, the display philosophy is a major strength. Art in the museum is ordered not chronologically, but as a series of "conversations". The Phillips doesn't just display its art, it hosts it. Quite literally in this case - a visiting collection from Oberlin was on display, integrated into the Phillips' own arrangement. Organization sometimes seemed to be by visual resemblance, with an emphasis on continuity. "Oh, Still Life with Newspaper, you have to meet The Glass of Absinthe, he's also an example of analytic cubism and he's really interested in household objects."
|The Syrian Bull, Mark Rothko|
Respectfully, sir -- on behalf of all daubers who might seek improvement -- shove it up your je-ne-sais-quoi
One other special exhibition is on display at the moment: TruthBeauty, an examination of the birth of art photography. (I mean photography as art, not photography of art - which I am sure is another discipline that Rothko would unjustly scorn.) I find photos hard to focus on as art unless - and this is odd - they are blown up to at least a yard long. Otherwise I start to read the entire room, with its grey squares on the wall, as a newspaper. This is quite unjust to the photographers, and once I realized I was doing it I made an effort to stop. Nonetheless, the photos that drew my attention were almost universally the largest ones, not the best ones. I'm sorry, The Phillips! This is one of the things that makes me not classy enough for you.
Still, classy or not, I will be back as often as I can, and maybe, just to spite Monet, I'll bring a sketchbook.
*Yes, this museum seemed distinctly feminine to me. Odd, since it represents the collection of a guy.
**This is a compliment. The fact that I give compliments like this may explain why I am not an art critic...
***This brilliantly articulate rebuttal (my original was terser and not printable on a family blog) is thanks to friend and literary critic at kagenjoujo.
Place: The Phillips Collection
Pros: Gracious atmosphere and brilliant arrangement of art
Cons: EXCEPT FOR THE GREAT MIGRATION!
Definitely Check Out: Oh what the heck, check out the Boating Party, it really is all that and a bag of chips.
Rating: 8/10 smiling gallery attendants